Brusthom Ziamani is a nineteen year-old boy from Camberwell, South London, who was found guilty in the Old Bailey yesterday of plotting to behead a British Soldier by planning an act of terrorism. Ziamani was arrested last year at the age of eighteen and was found with a twelve-inch knife and a hammer wrapped in a black Islamic State flag. It is alleged that the discovery was an attempt to commit an unlawful terrorist act inspired by the Lee Rigby killing that took place on 22nd May 2013 in Woolwich. Lee Rigby’s killers Michael Adebolajo age twenty-eight and Michael Adebowale age twenty-two ran him over before going on to brutally murder the British soldier by beheading him in broad daylight.
All three men are of Muslim faith but express extremist views. However, unlike Lee Rigby’s killers who were born into the faith and have chosen to follow terrorist groups and their extremist beliefs, Brusthom Ziamani was born in London into a Jehovah Witness family originally from Congo but made the decision to convert to Islam. Needless to say his family did not approve of his new decision and his relationship with them terminated once he had informed them of his new faith. Ziamani was forced to leave his family home in Camberwell and took up residence in his local mosque.
His decision to convert was influenced after attending meetings and demos organized by the banned terrorist group Al-Muhajiron (ALM). Following this the teenager changed his name to “Mujahid Karim” meaning ‘warrior of war’ and began researching extremist preachers such as Anjem Choudhary the co-founder along with two others of Al-Muhajiron. However, it did not stop there for Ziamani, it was obvious that he wanted people to know of his new faith after only having converted for several days he expressed his new views on Facebook writing a status saying “Sharia law is on its way to our streets, we will implement it, it is part of our religion” and another one claiming that he was “willing to die in the cause of Allah”.
Shortly after coming into contact with the banned terrorist group and expressing the same extremist views against the west, the British government and British soldiers, Al-Muhajiron provided the accomplice with money, a place to stay and clothes after hearing he had been kicked out of his home in Camberwell and was living in the local mosque.
After attending several talks from the banned terrorist group in the basement of a Halal sweet shop in Whitechappel, Ziamani purchased a black Shahada flag. Shahada is the first of the five pillars in Islam and expresses two fundamental beliefs that make one a Muslim; ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammed is the prophet of Allah’. The courtroom heard that upon purchasing the flag to use at demonstrations, Ziamani had said “I am going to rock it everywhere I go in the Kaffirs’ face” Kaffir meaning non-believers.
Brusthom Ziamani was first arrested last June on a completely unrelated to matter. Upon arresting him police found a torn up letter in the pocket of his jeans in which he had written about wanting to mount an attack on a British soldier and die a martyr. Despite all of this, Ziamani denied planning a horrific terrorist act like a copycat murder of British soldier Lee Rigby the previous year. When questioned about his Facebook posts the teenager told the police they were written in an attempt to fit in ALM as the group was his only source of money, clothes and a place to live. He also denied that he had a terror ‘tool kit’ making up excuses as to why he had the knife, hammer and flag with him.
Ziamani’s ex-girlfriend has reported that shortly after turning to Islam he would often show her weapons he wanted to carry out attacks on British soldiers with and described Lee Rigby’s killers as ‘legends’.
Yesterday, on the 19th February 2015, after deliberating for a day and a half, the jury found Brusthom Ziamani guilty of preparing an act of terrorism on or before the 20th August last year. His lawyer Naeem Mian told the jury that the teenager could not be and should not be convicted for having ‘repulsive’ and ‘offensive’ views. After the verdict, in his defence she went on to tell the judge, Timothy Pontius, that his sentence should be one of considerable length taking into account he is a young boy with no previous convictions. The judge adjourned sentencing until the 20th March in order to consider all aspects of the case before deciding on an appropriate sentence time for the teenager.
An officer from the counter terrorism unit has expressed concerns that this case is only one example of the current threat we face in the UK today.